It was interesting to read the recent article (HCM March 14, p32) based on my Black and White Retention reports.
The reports profiled almost 350,000 members – if published as an academic paper, this would make it one of the largest studies ever – and the operators involved represented the distribution of sectors across the UK, providing like-for-like information about membership retention. The results clearly show that people paying to use facilities don’t represent the full breadth of the population.
The results don’t take into account concessions, which may affect the proportion of public sector users, but these are not the intended participants of the study, which ultimately shows an increasing similarity in the profile of paying members across all sectors.
In the MOSAIC breakdown, by far the largest group was Liberal Opinions (100,447); the next largest group was only one-third that size. In addition, while some operators may assume they are opening up new markets, seven out of 10 reported new joiners had previously been members elsewhere.
While it may not make us warm and fuzzy inside, the data is a reflection of the way we design and run our facilities and market and sell memberships. If we want the data to show something else, we must introduce new approaches.
Ultimately the public sector will not survive unless it can become commercially viable as well as community focused, while private sector operators must differentiate themselves from each other in order to carve out their place in the market and demonstrate growth.